Encountering Jesus at Joni and Friends Family Retreat

Parenting children with severe disability is a labor of love that few understand - Rob & Cheryl know the endurance 24/7 supervision requires

SCAOTTS VALLEY, CA — Parenting a child with severe disabilities is a labor of love that few people understand. But Rob and Cheryl Trotter know the endurance 24/7 supervision requires. Their son Sam has multiple disabilities and the demands surrounding his care threatened to leave Rob and Cheryl depleted both physically and emotionally. Together they longed for a place of rest and acceptance for their family.

But at Family Retreat in Scotts Valley, California, Rob, Cheryl, Sam and Sam’s little brother, Toby, found “joy in the midst of our day-to-day stuff,” said Cheryl. “Joni and Friends helps me take God’s Word and put it into our family!”

Cheryl Trotter – Sam’s Mother:

It’s pretty typical for me to cry. But I can pull it back. When Sam was first born he was diagnosed with microcephaly and we had no idea until the paediatrician came into the room after Sam was about 5 hours old and he said ‘there’s a concern for his head size because his head size is underdeveloped.’

You have your child and yay it’s a boy and you give him his name and all these things that as a mum and as a parent go through your mind and all of a sudden you’re going down this one path and you kind of take a sharp turn in a different direction.

Rob Trotter – Sam’s Dad:

After he was born I felt we spent more time at the hospital than we did at home sometimes. And it was just a lot of learning and trying to get familiar with the disability that he had and it changed our paradigm of parenting quite a bit.


Rob finally said ‘God gave us our marriage and our life together, He gave us our son and we’re going to live our life to the fullest.’

Toby Trotter – Sam’s Brother:

Sam’s disability is a challenge because my parents can argue over it sometimes and it’s hard for them to get him to bed and we have to have someone who watches him at night and for a long time we didn’t have that. So one of my parents had to sleep in the living room on the couch so they didn’t get a lot of sleep.


When we first went to Joni and Friends we had never been in a community of that many families who had been effected by disability. There was such celebration and joy in the midst of day to day stuff and it was life giving for me.

Linda Thompson – Sam’s Short Term Missionary (STM):

I’m working with the Trotter family and my camper is Sam. He’s very happy and we spend a lot of time wheeling around the camp and just enjoying each other’s company.


Me and my camp group like to play basketball and just hang out around camp and just do a bunch of things. Like yesterday we played ultimate frisby and we played a lot of basketball.


One of the ways that Sam communicates to us about his relationship with God is through the way he worships the Lord. Sam’s STM came up to me and said ‘Cheryl, look over. Sam is worshiping God.’ And I looked over at him and he was making movements that were outside of his typical pattern and his face was full of joy and I said ‘Lord he is worshiping You. If Sam is worshiping You, he knows You, You’ve given him spiritual gifts. You have got a calling on his life to glorify his Heavenly Father.’

Where is God in your life each day that in the midst of any struggles, how is He doing what He said He would do? Because that’s what really matters. It’s where your theology meets your reality and Joni and Friends has helped me take God’s Word and put it into our family however that was.

Read more news on Disability, Christian Ministry and Humanitarian Services.

About Joni and Friends

For 40 years, Joni and Friends has provided the hope of the Gospel and practical resources to people affected by disability around the globe. Ministry programs include Wheels for the World, Family Retreats, the Christian Institute on Disability, and church ministry training. Joni and Friends also delivers inspirational media such as the Joni and Friends radio program and podcasts. To find out more, please visit www.joniandfriends.org.


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